SMNW can’t overcome early deficit against SM South
Overland Park The Shawnee Mission Northwest football team knows what it can do on defense, but the offense is still trying to find its way. That process gets exponentially difficult when put into an immediate hole as it found Friday at SM South.
The Cougars (0-3) fumbled the ball away on their first drive and the Raiders (2-1) were up a touchdown less than a minute into the game. That would be the difference as SM South went on to hand the Cougars a 28-21 defeat.
"Tonight was just a frustrating night because we were in catch-up mode the whole time and couldn't put everything together," coach Linn Hibbs said.
SM Northwest can take solace in that the score was closer than it should have been. SM South went up 14-0 and looked in control, then Northwest responded with a kickoff return. The Raiders carried a 28-15 lead into half.
Already, the Cougars had allowed more points than they had all season, but they also had more points than in their previous two games. They were playing both sides out of character until the second half.
"It's hard to measure progress right after a game like this," Hibbs said. "I don't think we made any progress defensively because we didn't play as well as we could. Offensively, I'm not quite sure."
The Cougars didn't allow any points in the final two quarters, though that was more of a product of the Raiders taking chances and turning the ball over on downs while in field goal territory. In a last ditch effort, senior quarterback Jake Horner ran for a touchdown with a minute and a half left to play.
However, the onside kick ended up in the hands of SM South and SM Northwest resorted to chucking Hail Mary passes as time expired.
"On a positive note," Hibbs said, "we do keep fighting."
Hibbs sees the effort that gave his team a chance to win, it's just that the fighting needs to end up in wins at some point. If the defense can play like it did in the second half and the offense can get going, this team can easily change its course.
Horner was the man of the night for the Cougars, doing it on offense and special teams. He scored all three touchdowns, two rushing and the other a kickoff return while running for 71 yards.
Horner passed only six times on the night, mostly in the final minutes, and finished with just 40 yards passing on 4 of 6 attempts. Meanwhile, Clay Drouillard went 0 for 5 with an interception.
Jacob Gilliam carried 13 times for 39 yards and Laphonso McKinnis finished with 34 yards on eight carries. Max Jenks led the Cougars with two catches for 26 yards.
SM Northwest has a short week, playing host to Leavenworth on Thursday. They'll try to rebound from this game, and probably without senior lineman Logan Miller who left Friday's game with an undisclosed leg injury.
If they can solidify some leadership and mitigate the bad plays, Hibbs thinks that there's plenty of time to turn this season around.
"Our kids have to understand that we're close," he said. "We just have to find a way to get over that hump and I think we will."